If it’s possible to own being set up for murder on a boat, Dolores just did in Oni Press’ Angel City #5. Handling high pressure like she’s James Bond, passengers are already screaming “murder” when Dolores wakes up next to a dead man on page one. Issue three’s spiked drink was her warning and this time she’s a long way away from the garage where she was knocked out. A master course in story pacing follows.
Cranks!’ lettering forces readers to disengage from their emotions in the same way Dolores does. Breaking up her observations into small, manageable narration boxes, he renders Dolores’ assessments deliberate, careful and cutting, the better to immediately act on them.
However efficient her response time, there are no guarantees as she makes her way up to the deck of the ship, where the cravat of being out on the water stands to be the next problem. Little moments of humor, like Dolores issuing the warning “Nobody get brave,” before climbing the stairs, are slipped into Janet Harvey’s script, and there’s a buzz of period recognition from hearing her “gun” get called a “piece” by the police. Reaching the “you’re surrounded” point in Dolores’ escape, artist, Megan Levens, and colorist, Nick Filardi, will later recycle the blinding lights and purple-magenta sky for the issue’s close.
Angel City‘s penultimate issue is bookended by action but the middle puts the pedal on romance, as Joe and Dolores speed up their progress towards becoming a hand holding couple. You wouldn’t think there’d be much time for romantic banter, when you’re being pegged for murder, but they manage. In one of my stranger critiques, no one likes a backseat kisser but there’s a panel during the lead up to their first kiss where Joe’s expression seems put out? Dolores eyes are already closed and Joe’s speech bubble is an ellipsis. I’m not sure if it’s commenting on the times, and a woman being an initiator. I do believe their pairing is the genuine article—the next panel they’re good—but the ‘before’ shot puts a pall over the ‘after’ that doesn’t belong.
Angel City #5 doesn’t pall but makes you keen for next month’s finale. Unlike promotion thrown together by the Hollywood gangsters for a film called Gold Diggers of 1939, this isn’t the 1930’s where a smoking man gets backed by chorus girls. This is a 1930’s where strong women, led by Rita (whose extended appearance this issue is a huge coup) bear bats, knifes and brass knuckles. It’s not about making-up people to appease our modern sensibilities but telling the stories of the people who weren’t seen in their own time. That their stories are entertaining is Hollywood’s loss.